Thursday, September 29, 2005

Bonding on Mt. Washington

Whether inspired by WordWhiz's upcoming trip to New Hampshire or Complimenting Commenter's compliment on my last travel blog, I felt I should tie up a loose end there.

Wanting to climb Mt. Washington to show I wasn't over the hill at 50, I took my two boys and my nephew Bill to the White Mountains two years ago. I thought it would be a good father-son-nephew bonding experience for all.

We hiked up the Tuckerman Ravine trail which attracts dedicated uphill hikers of all ages, shapes and sizes. You need to be in good physical condition, but no technical climbing experience is required. You don't need ropes, spikes or crampons.

It was a vertical climb of close to 5,000 feet, the equivalent of walking upwards of nearly a mile. We scrambled hand over hand on all fours in some spots, and hopped rock to rock in other spots. Four hours after we started, we summited.

Then my nephew and my younger son Scott balked at going down. They'd had enough. There was a highway to the top. Could they hitchhike down? No, verboten. Could they take the cog rail train? No. It ended up on the opposite side of the mountain from our parked car. What about the Mt. Washington Stagecoach? I'd heard stories that they would shuttle exhausted climbers back down, but I couldn't get any detailed information.

While Scott and Bill grumbled, Greg, my older boy, decided he wasn't waiting and started down on his own. Some time later, the other two relented and the rest of us began the trek downward. Only 50 feet down, my leg began cramping. I had to stop. But the boys weren't waiting and continued down. So much for father-son-nephew bonding.

I limped back up the hill, made some inquiries, and found that the Mt. Washington Stagecoach indeed does offer a one-way van ride down. It cost me full round-trip fare but I was more than willing to pay the price. As we rolled downward, a fellow climber, guilty that he too was unable to descend, felt better about his decision to ride when he saw dark clouds now skirting the summit.

"It's looking pretty bad up there," he said. Mount Washington is notorious for sudden, violent storms that mark it as one of the most dangerous places in the continental U.S. I didn't tell my fellow passenger that my two sons and their young cousin were left to their fates up there by this here dad. This van ride was turning out to be a very expensive guilt trip for me.

After being dropped off at our parking lot, I ascended the trail a short distance to a waterfall to wait. Before too long, Greg bounded around the corner. Remember, he was not aware that I had taken the hiker's shuttle. He saw me and stopped in his tracks. His jaw dropped a foot. He wasn't sure whether he was seeing a ghost,or superman. I explained that I didn't find a shortcut, but the hiker's shuttle.

Eventually, Scott and Bill arrived also. The weather had held out for them. Seeing me walk, Bill noted peevishly, "Your leg healed pretty quick, eh Dave." Well, maybe. But my pride was forever wounded.


Blogger bornfool said...

Sounds like a fun hike. I'd like to try it sometime. I'll check about the Hiker's Shuttle first. :)

11:24 AM  
Blogger WordWhiz said...

Thanks for the link and the story, Dave. I've always considered myself pretty honest, but I'm not sure I would have admitted to taking the cheater's way out! I think I'd have let them wonder!!

12:15 PM  
Blogger Lucy Stern said...

Now what could have happened to that leg if you had tried to come down with it hurting. I know that the downward trek is usually harder than the upward climb. My I was 22 yrs old my husband and I climbed up the rim of the Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park in west Texas. It was a grueling 12 mile hike and I was in top condition. Getting up wasn't so bad. Our decend was another story. My toes were jamed inside my boots and by the time we got down, I never wanted to look at another mountain. It's a good thing that you took the stagecoach back down. You could have done some damage to you leg. Do worry about the guilt trip, those boys left you up there all by yourself. Something could have happened to you and they would have never known. You did the right thing.

6:05 PM  
Blogger Bernadette said...

Great writing and good effort regarding the climb, Dave!

Come Saturday, your pride will be in for another type of wounding!! Go SPARTANS!!

7:42 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

Great yarn Dave, it proves that "adults" can make the right choices sometimes, a fact not recognised by the "young" sometimes.

7:45 PM  
Blogger OldHorsetailSnake said...

The old mountain climber "Gotcha." Pains worse than any cramp. But you were one smart cookie to make the right choice.

7:23 AM  
Blogger poopie said...

Heh..wish I couldn've seen the kid's face when he saw you!!

11:04 AM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...


It was an amazed look I got from him. One of a kind. The worst part of it was that I had a camera on my lap. Another Kodak moment lost.

3:25 PM  
Blogger schnoodlepooh said...

"very expensive guilt trip" - that's perfect! I love it. And I thought that climbing UP the hill was the difficult part. At least no one got stormed on.

10:32 AM  
Blogger Deb said...

Great story Dave! I too wished I could have seen you're son's face.

1:54 PM  
Blogger Fred said...

I have three girls, so it's sometime hard to bond with them. Recently, two of them have taken up softball, so I'm all over it. As long as I don't have to run...

4:47 PM  
Anonymous vicki said...

My dad had us do that mountain when we were quite young and then for years the old Ford had a bumpersticker reading we climbed Mt. Washington. I rememebr it as a major forced march in true military style (my dad's).

Bonnie slid over a little early in the game to glat, wouldn't you say?

That Agawa Canyon trip should be spectacular this time of year- the colors were between 50-80 percent up there this weekend as opposed to just a week ago when I was up and they were just 30. And the sunny warm days- how great for you guys.

Oh wait- a closer read says you were doing that last weekend- well hope it wa grand. nd then there's the great duty free shop in Windsor...

4:17 AM  
Blogger Bernadette said...

I'm dining on crow today. Hail to the victors valiant and all that.

*lights matches*

12:13 PM  
Blogger Smallman said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:42 PM  
Blogger Enlargement said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:43 PM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

Thanks, Bonnie. Truce, huh.

Now if I can get all my other Spartan friends to be as gracious.

P.S. I see spam starting to make it this way. I don't want to start using spam blocker, as I've had trouble reading those words myself. But if the spam continues, I have no choice.

3:35 PM  
Anonymous weirsdo said...

Good story. As if getting old weren't bad enough, it has to be humiliating.
Thanks for stopping by The Pansi Files. I announced my censored status to the whole family, who were suitably impressed.

7:56 PM  
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1:04 AM  

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